51. Blaise Aguera y Arcas

Partner architect of MSN and Microsoft Visual Earth

For years, techies have sought to display huge files in high resolution without crashing a computer. Blaise Aguera y Arcas did it, with technology called Seadragon. At the 2007 TED conference, he showed a multigigabyte quilt of slides, then magnified one slide to reveal the entire text of Bleak House, and finally zoomed in on one letter in the book. Seadragon dived in and out of the enormous images seamlessly, stunning the audience. Microsoft, which had already bought Seadragon, has since integrated the technology into photosynth, the 3-D photo application popularized by CNN in its presidential-inauguration coverage. As Microsoft incorporates zooming into more applications, Aguera y Arcas, 33, will transform how we experience visual data. — by Chuck Salter


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